Reply To: Session #2 The Criminal Justice Landscape

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Reentry Overview memo from Open Philanthropy:
This was especially interesting to me because I have two long-time clients who will hopefully be getting out of prison sometime this year, each having served over 30 years. What they’re each going to need in terms of support is something we talk about quite a bit. There were two main points in this article that really struck me, in that I hadn’t really thought about them before. The first was the line, “Women whose loved ones returning from jail and prison do the vast majority of reentry support in informal ways.” As the primary caretaker for my son, I think a lot about all the unappreciated and unpaid labor women end up having to do. It shouldn’t surprise me that it’s women who are informally in charge of reentry support for loved ones. Seeing that fact in writing made me wonder what we can do to support those women. The other fact that I hadn’t really thought much about is how recidivism rates are assessed. I hadn’t thought much about the fact that you end up with very limited success metrics when, “recidivism rates ignore context, reinforce class and racial biases and inequalities.” The idea that recidivism is measured on negative rather than positive outcomes isn’t something I thought of before. I thought it was interesting that “parole and probation revocation policies and practices determine recidivism success rates more directly than what services are offered.”

Art of Legislative Lawyering:
I always thought of lobbyists and “the bad guys.” I thought only big corporations sent lobbyists to Washington to push their capitalist agendas. It never occurred to me that there could be lobbyists for good. The piece also made me realize something about myself that is hard to admit. I like to imagine myself in a leadership role, but the truth is that my skills are much more suited to a supporting role. I would be pretty terrible at most of the roles discussed. But I would be an awesome lobbyist. In a sense, I already do that kind of work. I have to be incredibly persistent to be successful at my job, and convince people who don’t want to get involved in my clients’ case that they should. I have to build strong, trusting relationships very quickly and very often. Then I have to maintain those relationships over long periods of time.

Criminal Justice Reform Strategy:
I didn’t have any real “a-ha” moments while reading this, but it was very cool to see what sorts of work different organizations were doing.